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Foreign Policy Analysis
Native American Diplomacy Before the American Revolution

Native American Diplomacy Before the American Revolution

(dramatic music) – Jeffrey Amherst was
the commander in chief of North American forces, and really he was the one that was tasked with this transition from war to peace. And he’s a central figure in the coming of the American Revolution, though often overlooked for that reason. But Amherst was the one
who started to enact new policies, and these were the policies that upset colonists, but also really upset
Native American groups, some of whom were
aligned with the British, some of whom who had been
aligned with the French, and who the British should have wanted to try and create stronger alliances and trading relationships with, ’cause they’re trying to avoid war. But Amherst, and the Empire themselves, were kind of hamstrung by a debt. A debt that weighed heavy
on their balance sheets, and Amherst realized that if he reduced the amount of diplomacy
with Native American groups and the amount of diplomacy
that was conducted and the way it was conducted,
he could save money. Because up until this point, the way that Native
American diplomacy happened was through regular treaties in which alliances and
partnerships and friendships were affirmed and reaffirmed. You didn’t kind of just sign a treaty and keep it in practice for 50 years, you’d regularly renew it and refresh it. And one of the ways that
you renewed and refreshed it was through ceremonial gift giving. So if we were allies,
we might trade with you guns and ammunition to
show that we trusted you as a friend and a trading partner, and you might trade
goods for us that we want to then bring back to manufacture. And so after 1763 Amherst saw that the British Empire
conquered North America, he did have that type of mentality, but he also had kind of
the financial realities that were pressing on him. He decided to reduce the amount of that diplomatic gift giving, and that, for many native groups who were unsure about the British Empire, in the same way that colonists were unsure about what this new British
Empire was gonna look like, it kind of confirmed some
of their worst fears. That the British Empire was
aiming to subjugate them, to colonize them, and
was not treating them with the respect that they were due. – [Announcer] Click the
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work at Mount Vernon. (gentle music)

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